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House passes bill renewing efforts to combat human trafficking

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Legislation to renew efforts to fight human trafficking was passed comfortably in the House on Tuesday. The bill was sponsored by a New Jersey lawmaker.

The bill was passed 401-20. 12 House Republicans voted against the bill and all New Jersey lawmakers supported it.

The Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act of 2022 would ring-fence over $1.1 billion to identify and engage with victims in a culturally sensitive manner, to protect trafficking victims from any legal consequences as a result of being trafficked and increase access to both social services and immigration services for trafficking victims.

The bill will also improve co-ordination amongst law enforcement to deal with trafficking, increase the number of Federal, state, local, Tribal and territorial law enforcement officers to tackle human trafficking and heighten efforts to investigate and prosecute anyone engaging in forced labor.

“Human trafficking is an evil practice that contradicts who we are as Americans and the rights we cherish. With this National Action Plan, we reaffirm our commitment to preventing and punishing human trafficking in all its forms and to addressing the social and economic conditions that can create greater vulnerabilities for marginalized groups,” Homeland Security Advisor Dr. Liz Sherwood-Randall said.

“Human traffickers never take a holiday, nor can we,” said Rep. Chris Smith (R-4th District) the bill’s chief sponsor. “Because traffickers and the nefarious networks they lead always find new ways to exploit the vulnerable, especially women and children, we must aggressively strengthen laws and their implementation.”

The bill has also renewed the Department of Homeland Security’s Angel Watch Center, which was created by Smith’s International Megan’s Law. Megan’s law was named after 7-year-old Megan Kanka who was killed by a sex offender who lived across the street. The law mandates that foreign governments be informed when a sex offender travels overseas.

Smith said that over 7000 registered sex offenders have been prevented from travelling overseas as a result of the law.

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